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Other Written Sources

Quantitative data and sources for the pre-nineteenth-century Istanbul population are difficult to come by. The available estimates, most of them by European travelers and Orientalists, are approximations with a usually low degree of reliability. Besides, Istanbul was never taxed in the same manner as the provinces, never had a Tapu Tahrir Defteri, and was never, even immediately after the Ottoman conquest, subjected to a census. There are, for the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, only a few sparse cizye defteri (head-tax registers for the non-Muslim population) and some partial household counts for the occasional avârız taxation. As to the urban local level, population figures are non-existent. The first citywide reliable count is that of 1885.
The Archives of the Religious Courts (¥er’iye Sicilleri Arœivi) for Istanbul are classified on a topographical basis, given that many of the courts of justice were also responsible for law and order in specific chunks of the city. The archives for the Davud Paœa District, of which the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle is a part, span the period between 1782 and 1924. The Davudpaœa Court of Justice, always headed by an aide (na’ib) of the kadı of Istanbul, was one of the oldest courts of the city. Its foundation is probably contemporaneous with the namesake mosque and dates therefore from the last decade of the fifteenth century. The court operated at first within the Davudpaœa mosque itself but was moved, in the eighteenth century, to a two-story wooden building just adjacent to it. The devastating fire that ravaged a large part of Istanbul in 1782 destroyed both the Davudpaœa Court Building and its three centuries of accumulated archives.
As to the post-1782 religious court records for Kasap ƒlyas, they contain mostly deeds of sale of property, settlements of debts and of commercial disputes, cases of inheritance with litigation, and cases of divorce. The cases of divorce include declarations of outright repudiation as well as cases with mutual consent and financial settlement. There are also a number of rulings that amount to an outright rejection of the plaintiff’s case. A 10 percent sample spanning the 1782–1924 period has been drawn from among these court records. A total of 173 detailed court records have thus been transcribed, classified, and analyzed. A first screening was done by previously selecting the court cases where either the plaintiff, the defendant, and/or the object of discord were living or were situated in the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle.

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